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You are watching: How long can tapeworm eggs live outside the host

Mar Vista animal Medical Center

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THE usual TAPEWORM (Dipylidium caninum)(for information on the Taenia varieties of tapeworms, click here)


Adult Dipylidium. The segment are conveniently seen.The thick end is the tail where segments drop off.(Photocredit: public Domain Graphic, CDC department of parasitic Diseases)


Head (or "scolex") of Diplylidium. The rostellumis the "hat." The ring structures space suckers.(original graphic by audioeditorfree.com)


The adult Dipylidium caninum stays in the tiny intestine the the dog or cat, whereby it is attached come the intestinal wall by number of suckers and also by a structure referred to as a rostellum which each other a hat with hooks top top it. It stays there without bring about too lot trouble, absorbing nutrients through its skin and dropping egg sacs off the end of its tail. That is normally regarded together a relatively disgusting creature but causes very small harm come its host. The entire tapeworm is fairly long, 6 inches or more in length, i beg your pardon most civilization find surprising as all they usually see room the small egg sac segment which are around the size of a sesame seeds or serial of rice. The segments are very flat, prefer a item of tape, for this reason the surname of the worm.

The dog or cat becomes infected after ~ swallowing a flea that is delivering a larval tapeworm. The human body of the flea is digested away releasing the small tapeworm, which is at this allude mostly a head with hooks and suction cups. The tiny tapeworm looks for a location to latch on come the host"s intestine so it can prosper a full body. Tapeworms room not spread from pet to pet directly; they are spread by swallowing fleas.

Microscopic view of a tapeworm segment(Photocredit: public Domain Graphic, CDC department of helminth Diseases.)
Once docked prefer a boat to the organize intestinal wall, the tapeworm starts to thrive a long tail. (The tapeworm’s body is usually a head segment to organize on with, a neck, and many tail segments). Every segment consisting of the tail is like a different independent body, with an independent digestive system and also reproductive tract. The tapeworm absorbs nutrients with its skin together the food being digested by the hold flows previous it. Older segment are thrust toward the tip of the tail as brand-new segments are developed by the neckpiece. By the moment a segment has actually reached the end of the tail, only the reproductive street is left. When the segment drops off, the is basically just a sac that tapeworm eggs.

Adult tapeworm bites top top the host"s intestinal wall.Segments drop turn off the tail.(original graphics by audioeditorfree.com)
As Rover sleeps, tapeworm segments are passed(original graphic by audioeditorfree.com)
The sac, called a "proglottid," is passed indigenous the host’s rectum and out into the world, one of two people on the host’s stool or top top the host’s rear end. The segment is the size of a serial of rice and is able to move. At some point the segment will certainly dry and look an ext like a sesame seed.The sac breaks and also tapeworm eggs space released. This eggs are not infectious to mammals. The tapeworm have to reach a specific stage of advance before it can infect a mammal and this phase comes much later. In ~ the egg stage, the tapeworm requires a various kind of host to finish its following developmental stage: a flea.
Tapeworm segments(original graphic by audioeditorfree.com)

While all of this tapeworm segment passing organization has to be going on, fleas have been living on the pet, happy drinking the pet"s blood and also laying eggs of their own. The flea eggs drop off the pet and also onto the soil where ever the pets goes, v the largest number of flea egg accumulating in areas where the pet tends to frequent. This will likewise be whereby tapeworm segments accumulate as well. The flea eggs hatch, releasing hungry flea larvae the eagerly begin to graze top top dust, dandruff, and flea dirt. The flea larvae execute not pay close attention to what castle eat and also innocently consume tapeworm eggs.



Flea eggsand Flea dirt(original graphic by audioeditorfree.com)Flea Larva,eats tapeworm egg.(Photocredit: Alan R. Walkervia Wikimedia Commons) Flea Pupa, young tapeworm occurring inside it.(Photocredit: Auguste Le Rouxvia Wikimedia Commons)Adult flea carrying tapeworm.(Photocredit: Alan R. Walkervia Wikimedia Commons) Rover licks himself and also swallows the flea moving the tapeworm.(original graphics by audioeditorfree.com)

As the larval flea progresses in that development, the tapeworm within it is also progressing in development. By the moment the flea is an adult, the tapeworm is prepared to epidemic a dog or cat. The young tapeworm is only infectious to that is mammal hold at this stage of its development. The flea goes around its usual business, namely sucking its host’s blood and reproducing when, come its horror, the is licked away by the host and swallowed.

Inside the host’s stomach, the flea’s human body is digested away and the young tapeworm is released. It find a quite spot come attach and the life cycle starts again. That takes 3 mainly from the moment the flea is swallowed to the time tapeworm segments show up on the pet’s rear finish or stool.

Controlling fleas is necessary to stop recurring infections through this species of tapeworm.


Why is it referred to as a “Tapeworm”

What execute they look at like?

Where carry out they come from?

How execute you know if her pet has them? Why do they periodically fail to show up in a fecal test?

Can civilization get them?

How perform we eliminate them?

Why execute some vets recommend two treatments, and others just recommend one treatment?

If one pet has tapeworm segments, have the right to it be assumed the they every do?

Why could a pet continue to get tapeworm segments?


This creature gets that name since its segments and body are very flat (like a item of tape).


The adult tapeworm inside the pet can be a fifty percent a foot or an ext long. That is make of tiny segments, each around the dimension of a serial of rice. The tapeworm’s head hooks ~ above the dog’s intestine by tiny teeth and the worm absorbs nutrients through its skin. Each segment has a complete set of organs but as new segments flourish in at the neck area and also older segments development to the guideline of the tail, the organs disintegrate except for the reproductive organs. Once the segment drops off from the tail tip, the is just a sac that eggs.

This segment is white and able to relocate when that is fresh and, in ~ this time, looks favor a grain of white rice. Together the segment dries, it looks more like a sesame seed.

Adult Dipylidium caninum (head top top the left, tail ~ above the right)(Photocredit: Alan R. Walker via Wikimedia Commons)


There is no other way for a pet to obtain Dipylidium caninum except from fleas.

Many people who had thought their pet can not possibly have fleas discover out about the infestation this way. The tapeworm segment breaks open releasing that eggs. A larval flea consumes the egg in addition to the flea dirt that it normally eats. As the larval flea matures, for this reason does the baby tapeworm. Once a organize dog or cat licks the flea and swallows it, the dead flea is digested in the dog’s stomach publication the baby tapeworm. The tapeworm is passed come its new home in the dog or cat’s little intestine wherein it attaches and also lives that life.

This parasite go not damage the pet in any means as there are plenty of nutrient passing by to serve both the host and its tapeworm (tapeworms call for very little nutrients.) Still, high performance dogs, who require every calorie functioning for them, may show a diminish in performance because of a tapeworm infection.

There is another kind of tapeworm that might be confused with Dipylidium caninum and that is the Taenia genus that tapeworms. This is a different kind of tapeworm through a different appearing segment and a various mechanism the infection.

HOW carry out YOU know IF her PET has THEM? WHY perform THEY sometimes FAIL TO show UP IN A FECAL TEST?

Because the eggs are passed through the pets in packets (segments), they often do not display up top top the fecal exam; the packet should break open up for the egg to be viewed under the microscope. This way that it is easy to miss out on a tapeworm infection if just a microscopic fecal test is done. In many cases, the is the presence of visible segments ~ above the pet or that is stool the confirms diagnosis. Segments deserve to be pass in tiny groups associated to each other leading the owner to define a worm that sounds bigger than a grain of rice. Tapeworm segment are likewise quite flat.

Some people will mistake maggots in the stool for tapeworms. Maggots room not viewed in fresh passed stool and are not flat.

CAN civilization GET THEM?

Theoretically, yes, world can get them but they should be infected the same means dogs and cats are: by swallowing an infected flea.

HOW perform WE eliminate THEM?

Tapeworms are eliminated by various medications (praziquantel, i m sorry is administered by injection, tablet, or topically, or epsiprantel, i m sorry is oral). Fenbendazole is effective versus several species of tapeworms but not versus Dipylidium caninum.


Only one therapy is essential to death the tapeworms in the body; however, numerous clinics recommend a second injection in 3 weeks. The reason for the 2nd injection is this: If the owner finds out at the moment of your office visit the they require to manage fleas to control tapeworms, castle will need at least a month or therefore to manage the fleas.

After the very first treatment is given, there is no factor why the pet cannot automatically reinfect itself. It more than likely will reinfect itself at some point. By seeing the pet in 3 weeks and also giving an additional treatment ~ the fleas are controlled, over there is a an excellent chance that the tapeworms will certainly not just be back three weeks later. That takes 3 weeks from the time tapeworms are swallowed by the pet to the moment segments can be checked out by the owner.

On the various other hand, who knows when the pet will certainly swallow another infected flea? Our referral is that a single treatment it is in administered whenever segments space seen.

IF ONE PET has actually TAPEWORM SEGMENTS, have the right to IT be ASSUMED that THEY every DO?

No, just because one pet in the family members has swallowed one infected flea go not median they every have. Our reference is to deworm just the pets who have obvious tapeworms.

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WHY might A PET proceed TO acquire TAPEWORM INFECTIONS?

While many people would favor to blame the medication as ineffective, the reality is the there have to be one on-going flea population in the pet’s environment. The crucial to eradicating Dipylidium caninum from the house is flea control. If this seems impossible for any number of reasons, there are regular dewormers for both dogs and also cats that incorporate praziquantel to kill any type of tapeworm infections. In this way, a pet have the right to simply be de-wormed when a month because that tapeworms (and other usual intestinal worms).